Watch Tommy Fleetwood stock a golf course for more than a minute, and you can tell the Englishman was born to contend at major championships.
Contend he has, showing up at the best courses in the world like a sweet-swinging Jesus to post top-fives at Shinnecock Hills, Erin Hills and Royal Portrush. Fleetwood can low with the best of them on the big stage, and he did so again Friday in the second round of the 2020 PGA Championship at Harding Park.
After carding an opening-round, even-par 70, Fleetwood began the day five shots off the pace set by co-leaders Jason Day and Brendon Todd. With the optimal morning scoring conditions Friday, Fleetwood, who started his round on the back nine, stepped onto the 10th tee box and preceded to rip San Francisco's glorious municipal golf course to shreds. He made the turn at 4-under and then birdied the first to get to 5-under before dropping a shot at the Par-4 second.
The world No. 13 bounced back with birdies at No. 4 and No. 7 to close out a 6-under-par 64, putting him two shots behind Haotong Li who sits at 8-under after Friday's morning wave.
Fleetwood, who still is searching for his first win stateside, was the runner-up at the 2019 British Open and 2018 U.S. Open. Back in contention under the bright lights, the Cypress Trees of Harding Park could serve as the perfect backdrop to a weekend coronation for Fleetwood.
"I'm the same person. I've got a little bit more experience," Fleetwood said after his round. "I think I was -- if you look at it, was I playing better at Shinnecock? Maybe. But that might only be because I've only played two weeks since coming back [from England]. But you know, I feel the same, I guess, with a few more majors under my belt of experience. Hopefully, they stand me in good stead over the weekend. Any time you're in contention for a major, it's an experience, and I feel like I've done it a few times, so every time you learn. Every time these weeks come about you just hope -- you prepare for it to be your week, and today was a great day. Got a weekend of golf left. We'll see."
Fleetwood slayed Erin Hills in his second-ever appearance at the U.S. Open in 2017, and he followed that up by setting a Shinnecock Hills record 63 in the final round at the 2018 U.S. Open, missing a playoff by one stroke. Shane Lowry lapped the field at last year's British Open, but Fleetwood was one of the few players to maneuver his way around a brutal Northern Irish test of golf at Royal Portrush.
Fleetwood has seen what it takes to join the game's elite. He has watched Brooks Koepka and Lowry claim titles as he fell just shy of major glory. That experience, Fleetwood hopes, could be the determining factor this weekend by the Bay.
"Well, majors are the toughest tests in general, and when you're playing up against the best players in the world and on the hardest golf courses, hopefully, it's going to bring the best out of you," Fleetwood said. "But it tests every single aspect of your game mentally and physically, and I've always enjoyed that. I think going on majors in the past, I've been -- you can class it as lucky or unlucky, but I've played with quite a few of the winners of the last few majors and it's always good to see what they do.
"You're obviously concentrating on your own game but you see how the events pan out and you see how the guys go and win those events. That, in your mind, can only do you good because you've watched it and seen it. Anytime you're in contention, it's just experience. You learn things about yourself and how those events unfold. Like I say, experience, you can't buy it, and I've been lucky enough to have some of that, and hopefully it stands me in good stead moving forward."
After being a bridesmaid twice, Fleetwood appears ready for Sunday to be his ceremony. A celebration of his culmination from unknown European pro to golfing rock star.
Fleetwood's wild swing, flowing hair and fun-loving personality feel destined to be attached to major history.
He'll once again be a factor on the weekend at a major, hoping his moment in the sun has finally arrived.
Tommy Fleetwood hopes major experience spurs him to PGA Championship originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area